We asked the question: “What would motivate you to become a whistleblower?” Of the more than 13,000 visitors to FraudBlawg, 50 people responded with their anonymous answers. 56% said that they would report fraud against the government, “because it is the right thing to do.” 22% said they would report fraud against the government, “but only if they could share in a portion of the reward.” Another 22% said they would report fraud against the government, “but only if they could maintain job security.” The good news is that under the False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. § 3729–3733, you can (1) do the right thing; (2) share in the reward; and (3) maintain job security.
While blowing the whistle takes bravery and assumption of very real risks, the false claims act mandates that a person who relates fraud against the government by filing a successful qui tam lawsuit will receive between 15-25% of the overall recovery and in some cases as much as 30% of the recovery. Statutory damages are trebled in False Claims Act suits and penalties are levied at a rate of as much as $11,000 per transaction — often making for huge whistleblower awards. Successful qui tam relators are also entitled to reimbursement of their attorneys’ fees and costs and can receive triple back-pay plus reinstatement of their jobs at the same seniority level if they were the subject of retaliation. So everyone who responded to the FraudBlawg poll was correct.
Unfortunately, the poll identified the one problem with the False Claims Act that no statute can change: most people will not report fraud under any circumstances. The answer omitted from the poll was the most obvious one– “I wouldn’t report fraud against the government even though it is the right thing to do, even though I can share in the reward, and even though I have statutory career protection.” The hundreds of people who read this whistleblower blog every day generally do so because they are aware of or suspect fraud against the government. Yet, only a small fraction of those people responded with even a simple anonymous click to say that they would report fraud.
Over $3 billion has been collected under the federal False Claims Act since January 2009. That represents potentially $750 million in whistleblower rewards. It also demonstrates that we the taxpayers are getting seriously ripped off daily. If you have knowledge of false claims to the states or federal government — Medicare Fraud, Medicaid Fraud, Defense Contracting Fraud, Stimulus Fraud, HUD Fraud, etc. — speak up. There really is no good reason not to. And there are a lot of good reasons why you should — not the least of which is that “it is the right thing to do.”